homemade protein powder (it’s cheap! it’s easy!)

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 in Food

protein powder smoothie

I have a love/hate relationship with protein powder. I love that it helps make my daily smoothie more filling and meal-like. I love that it’s a quick and easy way to get a nice dose of the recovery-helping macronutrient after a hard workout.

But I hate the price. And I, more often than not, hate the ingredient list. There are definitely more natural protein powders out there, but the price is just so restrictively high! And the rare times I found a natural protein powder that wasn’t exorbitantly expensive, it was exorbitantly gritty, earthy, and generally not delicious.

We recently ran out of our giant tub of protein powder, and I’ve been meaning to buy another one. But every time I’ve gone grocery shopping, I’ve landed in the protein powder aisle, taken one look at the prices and turned my shopping cart right around. I have a seriously hard time justifying $20+ for some powder.

protein powder

But then it hit me, hey, I have stuff that has protein in it in my pantry. And I have a coffee grinder that does a dang good job of turning things into powder. So, uh, why not? So I did.

protein powder

It took a little bit of experimentation to get something that didn’t overwhelm other flavors in smoothies. At first, I tried just straight ground dried lentils. Tons of protein, yes, but also tons of lentil-y flavor. Not recommended, unless you are one of those people who thinks a peanut butter-banana-lentil smoothie sounds delicious. So then I started to think about ways to cut the lentil flavor, but still add protein—enter steel cut oats and brown rice.

protein powder lentils, grains

Both the steel cut oats and the brown rice have protein, but more importantly in this little concoction they are pretty flavorless, which helps cut back on the earthy flavor of the lentils. I worked a little bit on the ratio, and soon enough, I had a nice protein-packed powder that just was pretty much flavorless in a smoothie. Win!

Want to make your own? Here’s the break down:

  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup dried green lentils

I mixed all of that up in a bowl, and then ground it in my coffee grinder about 1/3 cup at a time (just because my grinder is small) until it was a very fine powder. I ended up with just shy of two cups total of protein powder.

protein powder

The nutritional info isn’t quite as high in protein as your standard off-the-shelf protein powder, but it’s still pretty amazing, especially considering the low price tag and the low number of ingredients. Because of the carb-y nature of the oats and rice, it’s higher in carbs that store-bought powder, too, but I’m a big fan of whole grain, natural carbs, so I’m good with it! And, of course, you can play with the ratios to up the protein even more (more lentils) and reduce the carbs (less steel cut oats and rice).  You could also try other protein-tastic add-ins, like dried soybeans or dired black beans. I just always have lentils kicking around, so it was a good fit for our lifestyle.

Here’s the comparision between my homemade protein powder and my typical off-the-shelf protein powder.

Homemade Protein Powder (per 1/4 cup of powder)

  • 130 calories
  • 8g protein
  • 1g fat
  • 24g carbs

Ingredients: Lentils, Brown Rice, Steel Cut Oats

Store-Bought Protein Powder  (per 1/4 cup of powder)

  • 80 calories
  • 14g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 5g carbs

Ingredients: Proprietary non-GMO protein blend (rice protein, pea protein and soy [isolated soy protein and fermented soy]), di-calcium phosphate, FOS (fructooligosaccharides), curcumin (natural color), banana flavor, potassium citrate, guar gum, magnesium oxide, psyllium, natural vanilla flavor, oat bran, microcrystalline cellulose, spirulina, vitamin C, vitamin E (d-alpha tocopheryl acetate), choline bitartrate, inositol, apple pectin, bee pollen, niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, ferrous fumarate, calcium pantothenate, lecithin, lemon bioflavonoids, papaya, bromelain, chlorophyll, pyridoxine HCl, riboflavin, thiamine HCl, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, chromium chloride, sodium selenite, sodium molybdate

smoothie protein powder

I know what some of you are saying—but I don’t have a coffee grinder! Well, I think it’s worth the cash to go out and buy one. My coffee grinder was a whopping $10 at Target a few years ago. A $10 coffee grinder, $1 bag of lentils, $1 bag of brown rice and $2 worth of steel cut oats will make you much more than $14 worth of all-natural, plant-based, vegan protein powder.

protein powder

I’m a unflavored, unsweetened protein powder kind of girl, but I know that sometimes it can be really fun to mix it up with fun flavors, so I spent a little time creating four different flavor variations on the powder.

protein powder

Variations

  • Cappuccino: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, throw in 1 tablespoon of whole coffee beans and blend until a fine powder. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
  • Chocolate: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, throw in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and blend until a fine powder. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
  • Vanilla: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, add in the insides of 1/2 of a vanilla bean or slice a whole vanilla bean in half lengthwise and stash in a jar with the whole batch of protein powder to flavor continuously. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
  • Pumpkin Spice: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, add in 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger and ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and ground cloves. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.

coffee grinder

Let me know if you guys try it out with any other ratios, flavors or ingredients! I’d love to hear what you guys come up with. Happy protein powder making!

EDIT (PLEASE READ!)—A few folks have mentioned that there are some issues with eating raw beans, lentils and rice. So please, PLEASE read up on this and make your own decision before making this protein powder. Also, this is obviously not your typical store bought protein powder (as in, it’s higher in carbs and harder to dissolve), so please keep that in mind when making and using it.

Does anyone else have a near panic-attack when they go to buy protein powder? Or am I just a cheapskate?

125 Comments

  1. thanks for that genius idea next time i’ll try it wwith almonds

    • I’m glad I found this blog because I’ve just returned two containers of protein powder to Whole Foods because I found out the ingredients (brown rice) is sourced from China.
      I love the idea of making my own protein powder, but I am concerned about digesting it. Also, how do these companies get the carb count so low? Thank you. :)

      • I believe that they get the carb count lower is because protein is usually a by product of processing (ex. whey protein from milk etc.) also the natural sugars in plant based foods provide the carbs, so since this is a fully plant based protein that hasn’t been isolated i believe that is why it’s higher in carbs! (don’t quote me on it, just a thought)

      • Did you finally make the protein powder at home? I did and found that the darn powder does not dissolve in milk or water or whatever other liquid I use. I don’t know how the protein powder makers manage to get their powder to dissolve. I have no choice but to throw away the powder I made and buy some low carb low fat stuff from Now Foods.

  2. plzz tell me how much amount should be mixed in water or milk?

  3. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! I am going to try this tomorrow. I have been searching for something to use in place of store bought protein powder! I can’t wait to try this for myself and on one of my clients!

  4. Please, is there a way to mix this? I put a couple spoonsfuls in whole milk and it all sank to the bottom!

    • Hi, Elliot! I’ve never used it in just milk, so I don’t know. I doubt it though, it won’t dissolve like regular protein powder.

      • Use a blender and mix it in (approx. 2 Tbsp.) with smoothie ingredients.

        1/2 C. Skim Milk
        1 container of Yogurt (strawberry or vanilla)
        Fresh or Frozen Strawberries about one cup
        I like to add vanilla frozen yogurt sometimes. About 1/2 cup will do.

        That’s what I would do.

  5. I made your recipe and added it to my bolt house in the a.m. So far so good. I think I am going to go lentil crazy next time. Need more protein.
    Thanks

  6. This sounds great but what if I cook the lentil then put in

    • When you cook the lentils it drops the protein form 50g to 18g… you can soak them and then leave them on a towel to dry again and then grind them however lentil typically don’t need soaking or cooking if you’re going to grind them

  7. what kind of store-bought powder are you using that’s 14g per 1/4 cup? Optimum Nutrition “Gold Standard” has 25g per serving (which is less than 1/4 cup)

  8. Rice powder makes a good protein base and has the Omegas’ i.e. protein. I have tossed in cooked / canned beans for added protein;whatever needs used and add the real dark cocoa along with almond milk, or kale or other greens etc. I have used purchased protein powder but the price has gone sky high. The 5# tub is over $55 bucks. I’ve considered mixing some brown rice powder (Organic) in with the purchased protein powder to extend it. Has anyone tried this? How did it work out?

    Missy

  9. You definitely need to cook the lentils first, and also soak them before you cook them because lentils contain a chemical that inhibits protein absorption. Soaking them gets rid of it.
    I’d recommend cooking all the grains (I use my rice cooker for lentils too). Then spread them on a cookie sheet. They can dry out fairly quickly. Or put them in the oven at low temp for awhile.

    • Wouldn’t soaking them be enough? Doesn’t cooking them dimish the nutrients? I want to do this with brown rice and yellow split peas and thought I would just soak them, dry them and grind.

      • That should say diminish!

    • Hi.

      I agree with your suggestion. Did you try cooking the ingredients before hand? Did it work for you? I just need to know whether you got your desired results.

      Thanks :)

  10. Thanks for providing a cheap solution ,making our own home made Protein powder!!
    But still I am bit confused regarding ,is this protein powder will dissolve in water/milk or not .If it do,Still it will spread small food particles in drink ,which might be hard to digest easily. For me ,chance of getting diarrhea..:)

  11. I love that you took it upon yourself to try something new, but I wish more bloggers would couch these types of articles strictly in terms of experimentation. Judging from the responses and those I see in other raw/health blogs, many readers tend to see bloggers as experts even when we’re no different from the general, lay public. By saying in the beginning that we have no dietary/ nutritional expertise to back up our experimentation and by including our own research in our posts, our articles can let people see themselves as part of the experiment rather than encourage them to simply copy without being informed. I believe in DIY myself, but even with all-natural diets we can harm ourselves!

    My rule is that anything we do to whole foods that our ancient predecessors couldn’t do (coffee grinders, blenders, etc.) requires research before we promote it.

    • Just asking, wouldn’t using a morter and pestel, and the like to grind grains, be the same as using a coffee grinder to do the same process, just a lot quicker?

    • A bit over the top line of thinking as far as using modern equipment, IMHO. But it yours and I can respect it.

      Laura +1

  12. I read up on your suggestion and it didn’t say it was harmful, just that it might inhibit the absorption. I’m making this for a friend who has to GAIN weight. I love her and hate her all at the same time!! So will follow the cook and dry method. Thanks for the experiment and the blog!

  13. Hello, i was just wondering how did you find out the ratios? As i would like less fat and carbs but more protein, please may you help? Thank you

  14. I am excited to try this, however, I am planning to soak my powder in some water and plain yogurt over night. The reason is that the grains are more digestible when soaked.

  15. The idea and experiment itself is really interesting, however raw lentils is not advisable as there have been a number of studies showing that raw lentils have anti-nutritional factors which are mainly removed by heating them. (eg: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00046a039 )

    If you have to eat lentils raw, you can sprout them, but a raw lentil powder seems inadvisable.

  16. Ok I will admit I’m a little late in the game but I have an ideal. I have noticed that their is a new craze for crystal Light. I myself enjoys Crystal Light and think this would be a great add on to the protein powder to sweeten it up. What do you guys think???? Also I looked up some coffee grinders and found some great deals at Walmart. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Mr.-Coffee-Precision-Coffee-Grinder-With-Chamber-Maid-Cleaning-System-IDS77/2593964 I love the grinder ideal and will be looking forward to getting healthy thanks a bunch.

    • The artificial sweeteners in Crystal Light are extremely bad for you. Even natural sugars should be used sparingly, but the artificial ones have been shown to not only cause cancer, but also make you crave even more sugar.
      You don’t really need a coffee grinder, I have a bullet type blender that works great at grinding everything from rice to flax and chia seed.

  17. I think its a brilliant idea. I am going to try this tomorrow. Thank you!

  18. I was so happy to find this recipe! :) I also put this powder in my morning oatmeal it works awesome. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  19. I do this, but I avoid the digestion/bioavailability issues by fermenting the powder with kefir overnight, about 16 hrs. Then add water or more kefir to taste and other ingredients.

  20. I love that you figured this out, but what with all the comments above about the dangers of eating raw lentils — and cooking the grains and drying them — it would seem to me that one might save time, energy, and money by cooking a good Indian dish with rice and lentils. It might seem odd to have such a dish in the morning, when people typically have their protein shake, but having spicy hot foods seemed to be common with Indian people that I used to eat with — and you get used to it. Or maybe cook the lentils and rice and grind it up in a food processor — and add it to the shake when cooled. I may try that. But I may have to try this powder as well. Thanks again for figuring out!

  21. what can is use to mix these. milk or water

  22. This is incredibly creative! I believe it holds great potential for helping people who need a good, inexpensive source of protein and other nutrients found in these shakes. I’m thinking particularly of children and the elderly, people with certain nutritional challenges, and simply those fortunate ones who don’t have any weight concerns. I would LOVE to utilize these great options, but my ingestion of protein shakes (and healthy smoothies) are all focused around losing weight and keeping it off. The increased carb load alone is a deal breaker for me. Please keep up the good work and figure out a low-cal recipe! I’ll keep checking . . . : )

  23. Hej!

    I just wanted to know how could you figured out the levels of protein, fat and carbs in your home made protein shake. Great idea by the way and keep posting this kind of cool stuff! Cheers!

    • Hi David, there are numerous nutrition info calculators out there online. SparkPeople at Calorie Count are two of my favorites.

  24. I didnt read it all. but i can see and also know my by using my mind that this kind of protein powder u make will never be same like a real protein powder when it comes to how many calories and how much protein in 100 kalories.
    You could just make a normal meal and get same amount of protein in a meal. You could even get higher protein in a normal meal and better taste by cooking a normal meal instead of making a powder out of it.
    But maybe u like drinking powder or because its easier for you to bring it with you to school or work or wherever you go.
    But if its about getting proteins and you dont want to buy a protein powder, then its better just to make a normal meal.
    I dont use protein powder right now, and i have not used it since i started in gym january last year. I have been thinking about buying it, but i prefere to eat healthy meals with protein in it.
    I think your wholde idea seems really dumb.
    I would have liked your idea if you would actually make it with same high protein as in a protein powder and same time more cheap.
    But i dont think what you do is much more cheaper than a protein powder, and much worse you might even end up eating/drinking too many calories and end up gaining too much weight because u dont really know what you are doing and it dosent seem like you really count your calories.
    And even if you count your calories, then same as i said before, then its better just to cook a normal meal and get same amount of proteins or even more and also get a better taste in a real meal than in some powder.

    • why don’t u make it. She atleast made it, and her blog caught ur attention.
      So stop criticising her.
      The only thing which rules her blog is cost-effective protein, not the latest technologies.

    • Sam, you are extremely arrogant in posting. Kiss ma ass, ok?!
      If you want attention DO it on your personal pc-file which no-one reads except you. She wrote maybe the best thing I’ve read in my past 50 years and at least she deserve better response, or Don’t post.

      Lady, this your own blog,
      you are extremely intelligent, those who criticize you do not have guts to do something or anything good for their own lives, and less for the others, I’ve met hundreds of them.

      Hans told you some truth about preparing, but again I classify it as taste. I eat raw food like you all my life, and I am minimum 10 times healthier and younger then others. For strength or energy we should not speak here, it’s your healthy blog-post.

      First time in my life I respect someone, and here is my contribution to you:

      Proteins sources:
      —————–
      Rice, Soaked Corn, Soaked Soy, Soaked Wheat, Grains (almonds…etc), Oat, …
      *(example some Vegetables)
      Big colored Soaked beans, Guar (cluster bean), Pea, Green salads, Spinach…
      *(example some Fruits)
      lemon, strawberries, papaya and other big fruits,…
      (…)
      Eggs
      Fish bones

      Specific Adds:
      ——————–
      Calcium, Multi-Vitamins

      Taste adds:
      ———–
      You wrote them up.

      Preparation way:
      —————-
      0. dry
      1. grinder ,
      2. fermented ,
      3. Microwave oven (low temperature few hours burn the carbs),
      4. Microwave oven (5 minutes on max temperature burn the viruses),
      5. mix them all, packed dry in dark, and in cold

      Before use,
      put milk or natural water without Cl,
      mix it than leave 1-2 hours to soften.

      Eat as much as you like, and little bit more. And stretch, sport, or move a lot.

      If I can help with anything else, write to me, you have my email in post.

      • Absolutely wonderful comments. May I suggest:

        You can sprout beans, grains and oat groats which will make them even more valueable nutrients wise and easier on the stomach. After sprouting you then can cook them without seasoning and dehydrate them in oven, solar oven or electric dehydrater. After completely dehydrated, now you can store in mason jars. Best to remove air from jars with oxygen packet or with foodsavor. When you need to grind them, open jar and take out what you need to grind your protein powder. And problem is solved.

  25. Would dry roasting the ingredients before grinding be a good idea?

  26. Glad that i found ur blog.
    U can add some nuts, seeds to it to make it even more better, if u r not a hard-core protein girl.
    will have to find out a coffee grinder. :)

  27. I’m reading through comments and haven’t seen anyone come to a conclusion of how/what to mix this with to dissolve it. I’m looking into ways to add protein into my picky toddler’s diet without all of the additives in protein powders or nutritional drinks like pediasure. After doing research and reading the comments of others, I am avoiding the dried lentils and using oats, nuts, and quinoa as my ingredients to help make a nutritional protein packed supplement for my son. Due to his age, I need to be able to mix this into his food or drinks (masking the flavor is not an obstacle, as it actually tastes pretty good!) but I’m finding it difficult to get it to dissolve into liquid. As I mentioned, I’m dealing with a toddler, so he needs to be able to drink this mixed into liquids, through a straw cup. So far I haven’t been able to get it to dissolve enough to not clog the straw. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  28. Nice work! Thank you for the post, it is very inspiring. Yes. Soaking grains and beans reduce enzyme inhibitors… But this recipe is brilliant in its simplicity and soaking and then dehydrating and then pulverizing is quite a process for one who wants to keep a ready supply of homemade protein powder on hand. Did you know you can soak flour and achieve nearly the same benefits without all the above steps? Just put the serving of powder into water; play with the ratios until you find what works for you. I like to add a teaspoon of cider vinegar and/or a probiotic capsule whenever I am soaking flours for additional benefits, but that is totally unnecessary. Soak the protein powder overnight or even better, begin the soak for the next day when you make your morning smoothie for a nice long 24 hour soak for best benefits.

    As far as the dissolving issue… This is a protein powder suited for a blended smoothie, rather than a glass of water, milk, or juice.

    Thanks again for your awesome post. I think it’s wonderful when people work so hard on a recipe and then share the process and results with others. It ignites the spark of ideas in people worldwide who can share their variations and ideas in return. Thank you for creating a vegan protein powder that started a chain of so many exciting ideas in myself and in others; I appreciate you as a resource.

  29. Could you tell me the way to dissolve powder in water and how to do the powder don’t swell in hot water.

    Thank you so much!

    • Its made for more of a smoothie so mix it with ice or yogurt as well as water ir milk

  30. A girl after my own heart! I was frustrated at not being able to find a protein powder that wasn’t made by cheap ingredients like soy isolate and tons of chemicals. I couldn’t use all the carbs like you suggested, but what works for me is hemp seeds and chia seeds in a coffee grinder. I sweeten it with raw honey and use maca and other powders to give other nutrients. I also add raw cacao. Totally delish. You can buy raw hemp in the UK where I am, but I think you can buy hemp in the USA. Full of aminos and fab fats.

    • Hello, i just found this recipe for homemade protein powder and it great, but i would like to try out yours Laurie, can you tell me what else do you put in except the hemp seeds, chia seeds, the maca and the sweetener. What else do you put in ?

  31. How long can I use it, so it wont get old?

  32. Hi – I really appreciate your info on the protein powder. I decided to use oats, linseeds and pumpkin seeds. I’m not a big fan of seeds, so grinding in my blender first worked a treat and I then used this as a protein base for my smoothie. I think I put too much in as it was very thick, so I need to blend less to start with. I used about 1/4 cup of each.
    My shake also had: frozen berries, fresh blueberries (I’ve read this is a super food), a nectarine, 1/2 orange, 1/3 banana (which I didn’t need as it was very thick), a big splash of milk, 1 small yogurt, water. I don’t weigh anything, just throw it in and hope for the best. Thanks for your original post again.

  33. green lentils in hindi???? kon si daal h yeh
    ?

    • This is masoor whole (sabut). Thanks for this lovely recipe – i will definitely try but will sprout and then dehydrate …can think of adding lactobacillus for probiotics too…

  34. Good Article and effort. However, my point is, we go and buy Protein powder because they are concentrated Protein only (or at least 80% protein)powder. Your protein powder is just a powder form of Lentil and beans etc. So, in effect, it is like eating the Rice with the Lentil curry. So, I wonder why we go through this process of making a powder out of it.